Resources Legacy Fund is once again partnering with the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) through the Open Rivers Fund to reconnect parts of the Upper Bear River in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. The continued partnership will benefit Bonneville cutthroat trout, recreational fishing, and ranchers who divert water for irrigation. The partnership will ultimately fund ten restoration projects that will remove nine diversion dams, four additional barriers and restore stream and riparian habitat. This year’s grant of $432,000 is the second grant received by WNTI since last summer.
The projects funded through the Open Rivers Fund are expected to be completed by September 2020. The Open Rivers Fund is a 10-year, $50 million program of Resources Legacy Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It supports local community efforts to remove obsolete dams, modernize infrastructure, and restore rivers across the West. Resources Legacy Fund works with donors to create significant outcomes for the environment and for people.
Funds from this year’s $432,000 grant will be used to replace two diversion dams, a perched culvert, and engineering assessments to remove a large concrete dam and two additional rock dams from six sites in the Upper Bear River basin. Activities supported by the grant will open an additional 47.35 river miles, restore over 3,500 feet of stream and riverine habitat, reduce bank erosion and sedimentation, eliminate entrainment of fish, and provide engineering assessments for two critical projects to remove aging infrastructure. WNTI’s on the ground partners for the 2019 projects are Wyoming Game and Fish Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Trout Unlimited.
“Resources Legacy Fund’s partnership with the Western Native Trout Initiative proves it is possible to give landowners better irrigation while reconnecting rivers for fish,” said Julie Turrini, the Director of Lands, Rivers, and Communities at Resources Legacy Fund who oversees the Open Rivers Fund. “We are proud to continue to support this important work.”
Multiple irrigation diversion structures and other barriers fragment the Upper Bear River drainage, which spans Northern Utah, Southeast Idaho, and Southwest Wyoming. WNTI is working with many partners to remove and replace aging infrastructure in order to protect Bonneville cutthroat trout strongholds, restore habitat connectivity, and open up access to high-quality upstream habitats and cold, clean water on both public and private lands.
“We are thrilled to continue the collaboration between WNTI and Resources Legacy Fund to benefit native fish, landowners, and recreationists in the Upper Bear River drainage,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “We completed the projects funded by the Open Rivers Fund last year and these new projects build upon those successes. These landscape-scale recovery efforts are complex and require collaboration from committed partners in both the public and private sectors.”
WNTI is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a recognized National Fish Habitat Partnership that works to cooperatively restore and recover 21 western native trout and char species and sub-species across their historic range. The program funds efforts that raise awareness of the importance of native trout and focus limited financial and human resources toward the highest-impact, locally-led, on-the-ground projects. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $35 million in federal, public and private funds to support 147 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 96 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,199 miles of native trout habitat, and put in place 35 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.
WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/
Photo Credit: Tyler Coleman
Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) has awarded $19,750 out of its small grant program for five projects in six states, which will be matched by $115,800 in other public and private funding. More than $135,550 in conservation efforts benefitting western native trout will occur as a result.
“We’re very grateful to our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, RepYourWater, Basin+Bend, California Fly Fishers Unlimited, Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers, and all our individual donors for supporting our 2019 Small Grants Program,” said Therese Thompson, WNTI Project Coordinator. “The community-based projects were selected because of their emphasis on citizen science and outreach to help address challenges facing the restoration and recovery of western native trout.”
Alaska: Going to Extremes: Exploring the Northern Extent of Alaskan Trout Species $4,750
Applicant: Copper River Watershed Project
This project will implement up to five field trips for 75 local students in the region to learn more about native trout species ecology and biology, in particular Coastal Cutthroat Trout on the Copper River Delta and rainbow trout in the upper Copper Basin (additional species include Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling, and other salmonids).
California: West Hills College Coalinga Citizen & Undergraduate Science Project $5,000
Applicant: West Hills College Coalinga
This project educates 141 students and citizens on Coastal Cutthroat Trout through guided undergraduate level research and delivery of findings at a conference. This project is supported by
a comprehensive network of collaborators including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, and the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative.
Colorado: The Greenback Cutthroat Trout Exhibit $2,500
Applicant: Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers
Bear Creek Nature Center will add a new interpretive panel to the existing Greenback Cutthroat Trout exhibit that will address recent public questions to help better educate the public about this threatened species.
Montana/Wyoming: Yellowstone Fly Fishing Volunteer Program $5,000
Applicant: Yellowstone Forever Foundation
The objective of the Yellowstone Fly Fishing Volunteers Program is to engage volunteer anglers in collecting biologist data on Yellowstone’s Arctic Grayling, Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout fish populations to support the research and management efforts of the Yellowstone fisheries staff.
New Mexico: Willow Creek Habitat Monitoring $2,500 Applicant: Gila/Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited and James Brooks
Grant funds support volunteer and undergraduate student training and sampling efforts that support two previous WNTI funded projects on Willow Creek in the Gila National Forest, to benefit Gila Trout after the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy wildfire.
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a nationally recognized partnership under the National Fish Habitat Partnership program that works cooperatively across 12 Western states to conserve (protect, restore, and recover) 21 native trout and char species across their historic range. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $35 million in federal, public and private funds to support 147 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 96 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,199 miles of native trout habitat, and put in place 35 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.
For more information about the Small Grants Program, visit www.westernnativetrout.org
An annual report looking at the milestones WAFWA made in 2018, and where we are headed this year.
When it comes to the “People of the Sage,” there is a name that comes up often, no matter who you talk to or which conservation challenge you’re talking about: San Stiver.
During the recent annual Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference held in Manhattan, Kansas, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Mike Fowlks was voted as the president of the organization.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) was started in the 1920s as a way for the various wildlife agencies to coordinate and support each other. The organization has an annual conference each year, and at this year’s meeting, several new bylaws, a new strategic plan and the new leadership was voted on in Tuesday’s meeting.
“It was humbling for me to see that the western directors have confidence in my ability to move WAFWA into a new direction,” Fowlks said. “I look forward to taking the governance of WAFWA to a higher level and making it a more efficient and effective organization.”
Fowlks will serve as the president for one year until the elections take place during next year’s conference. As president, he oversees and creates new committees within the organization and nominates the chairperson for each committee.
During the conference, Fowlks also became the director sponsor for the Mule Deer Working Group.
What is the Mule Deer Working Group?
The Mule Deer Working Group was started by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in 1997. It consists of mule deer and black-tailed deer biologists and experts from wildlife agencies in 19 states located in the western U.S. as well as three western Canadian provinces and two territories. Each agency has one representative in the group, and the group meets twice each year in various locations across the U.S. and Canada.
What does the group do and why is it important?
The organization was created for wildlife agencies in western North America to collaborate on the conservation and management of mule deer and black-tailed deer.
“It is important for biologists to talk to each other because we all have a lot of common issues that we face in our different areas, and we often have common goals,” Jim Heffelfinger, Mule Deer Working Group chair and Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife science coordinator, said. “When we start asking around to different agencies, we find out that others are frequently working to address the same issues, so by collaborating, we are more efficient and successful.”
The group publishes informational documents and guidelines each year on mule deer management, habitat conservation, and successful management practices. Recently, the group teamed up with wildlife veterinarians to author a report about Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose.
During this week’s Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference, the group announced that it will be writing a comprehensive book about mule deer, something that hasn’t happened in nearly four decades. It also worked on five new fact sheets on various topics including historical and current deer populations and determining the age of mule deer.
“It’s a privilege to be the director sponsor of the Mule Deer Working Group because of the fantastic work that they do,” Fowlks said. “The working group’s efforts increase our collective knowledge of what mule deer need to thrive, it helps us identify threats to mule deer populations in Utah and the West, and it helps us understand how to mitigate those factors. By collaborating with other wildlife professionals, our ability to manage for healthy, robust populations of mule deer in Utah and all over the western part of North America increases.”
As the director sponsor of the group, Fowlks will provide guidance and ensure the group is meeting the needs of the various wildlife agencies.
The group is also currently working with several federal land management agencies to identify important winter range and migration routes for deer, so they can improve the deer’s ability to reach the critical winter and summer habitats they need.
For more information about the Mule Deer Working Group, visit their website.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has honored conservation professionals from several western states with awards commending their work to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The awards were announced July 15 at WAFWA's annual conference, held this year in Manhattan, Kansas.
Virgil Moore, retired Director of Idaho Fish and Game was honored with WAFWA’s most prestigious award, the Phillip W. Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award. Moore was recognized for his more than four decades of leadership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and his innumerable contributions to WAFWA. Moore retired in January, 2019, capping a 42-year career devoted to fish and wildlife management. Moore’s leadership contribution to WAFWA spanned several committees and issues over the years. Most recently, Moore served as chair of the Sage-Grouse Executive Oversight Committee from 2012 – 2018, a joint state-federal committee under WAFWA sponsorship which created the important conduit for necessary partnership and conservation vision to avoid federal listing of this iconic bird. Moore broadened his leadership footprint as the 2018 president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). In this capacity, he led state fish and game agencies and partners across the nation in a vision for funding future conservation of all of America’s wildlife through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The award Moore received is named for Phillip W. Schneider of Oregon, whose legendary commitment to fish and wildlife resources spanned more than 40 years.
Utah Investigator Wade Hovinga was honored with WAFWA’s Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award for his innovative approach to wildlife crime investigations. Hovinga is a Conservation Officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and some of his high-profile cases have received nationwide press coverage and significantly raised awareness of the consequences of intentionally violating wildlife laws. Hovinga is also a member of the oversight board for the Wildlife Investigators Covert Academy, and devotes significant time to the annual training for officers and investigators from around the country. The Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award memorializes Idaho Fish and Game officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, who were killed in January 1981 while trying to arrest a poacher in a remote region of southwestern Idaho.
Colin Gillin was honored with WAFWA’s Professional of the Year Award for his tireless dedication to wildlife management and health. Gillin is the State Wildlife Veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), but his contributions are felt across the country. He serves on myriad committees providing important contributions on national issues such as cervid ranching, chronic wasting disease, white-nose syndrome, high path avian influenza and elk hoof disease. In Oregon, Gillin built the agency’s veterinary program from the ground up and established a lasting relationship with Oregon State University’s Veterinary Department.
WAFWA honors the conservation efforts of federal partners with the Federal Conservation Partner of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was Bureau of Land Management Arizona State Director Ray Suazo, who was honored for his commitment to building relationships and helping advance conservation initiatives in Arizona. He’s responsible for managing 12 million acres of public land for multiple uses and has demonstrated his commitment to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation for current and future generations.
Other awards conferred included the President's Award, which went to Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas, Inc. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission was honored with the Commission of the Year Award. Colin Berg with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation received a Special Achievement Award for his work to bring outdoor education to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma. WAFWA recognized the Outstanding Citizen Wildlife Contributor by honoring Eddie Pribyl from Nevada. Retired WAFWA Executive Secretary Larry Kruckenberg was honored with a Special Recognition Award for his long service to WAFWA. WAFWA also conferred lifetime membership awards to six individuals for their career accomplishments and service to the organization: Bob Broscheid (CO), Bruce Dale (AK), Virgil Moore (ID), Alexa Sandoval (NM), Keith Sexson (KS), and Scott Talbott (WY).
Washington D.C. (July 12, 2019)- The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies strongly supports the introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. This bipartisan legislation would dedicate $1.3 billion in existing revenue annually from the U.S. Treasury to State Fish and Wildlife Agencies to implement their State Wildlife Action Plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters. State Wildlife Action Plans are congressionally mandated plans outline proactive solutions to conserve those species in greatest need and prevent wildlife from becoming threatened or endangered. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced the introduction of this bipartisan bill today in Washington D.C.
“Our nation’s fish and wildlife are among its most valuable resources, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us,” stated Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Today we find ourselves facing wildlife species declines that could alter our children’s and grandchildren’s opportunities to enjoy these resources. By investing in our State Wildlife Action Plans, which contain prioritized actions for restoring and managing the most imperiled species within our states’ borders, we will be ensuring future generations can enjoy our rich wildlife heritage. In essence, we are performing preventative maintenance, addressing concerns before they become a crisis. It is by far the most economical way to proceed and the chance of success is exponentially greater.”
“Bold solutions are needed to safeguard our nation’s wildlife from further decline,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents a strong commitment to addressing the current biodiversity crisis using innovative, state-based management that will safeguard our nation’s environmental heritage for current and future generations.”
Congressman Fortenberry added “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is a smart upstream policy that promotes continuity of habitats and helps prevent the costly downstream emergency room procedures of the Endangered Species Act. Through proactive, collaborative, and voluntary partnerships with states, RAWA enhances community recreational opportunity for birders, hikers, hunters, anglers and all who enjoy the beauty of nature.”
“Our existing funding model can no longer keep up with the needs of the full array of fish and wildlife in this country,” said Executive Director Ron Regan. “This bill will allow all Americans to become investors in conserving our nation’s fish and wildlife heritage.”
These critical efforts are supported by the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, whose purpose is to create a 21st-century funding model for critically needed conservation of our nation’s most precious natural resources, our fish and wildlife. This effort was built upon the strong partnership created by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, consisting of members representing the outdoor recreation, retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.
Contact: Patricia Allen
Director of Communications
Deep in the West, under a secret rock in a cool stream, lies a prize worth finding. Anglers of all skill levels are invited to participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge and put the lure of the West on their bucket list. In addition to earning bragging rights and prizes at the Expert, Advanced and Master Levels, participants will help the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) conserve 21 species of native trout.
The 12 states where these native trout can be found are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The state fish and wildlife agencies in each of the 12 states are partnering on the effort, along with the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management and Trout Unlimited.
“We’ve been working for decades with our partners to conserve and rebuild native trout species across the West,” said Ed Schriever, Director of Idaho Fish and Game Department and Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Partnership Board of Directors. “The Western Native Trout Challenge is a great way to promote angling for these beautiful fish, keep people connected to native fish and their habitat while raising awareness and support for the need to conserve them.”
Native trout are the embodiment of the West. The wild rivers, alpine lakes, and trickling arroyos — the fiber of Western geography — are the habitat for the redband, the cutthroat, and the Gila.
The Western Native Trout Challenge invites anglers to help celebrate this legacy by catching native trout and char in each of the 12 Western states, at their own pace. There are three levels of achievement: Participants who catch six trout species across four states will earn “Expert Caster” rewards. Those who catch 12 trout species across eight states will earn “Advanced Caster” rewards. And those who catch 18 species across all 12 states will not only enjoy the adventure of a lifetime, they will also be designated as a “Master Caster” with rewards to match.
Anglers can get details on which fish to catch and where to find them by registering on the website, WesternNativeTroutChallenge.org. Registration is $25 per adult and is free for those 17 and under. The vast majority (92%) of the fee will go toward helping conserve native trout populations for future generations to also enjoy.
“We’re thrilled to be launching this fun way to support native trout conservation across the West,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “For every $25 program registration fee, $23 will go directly back to conservation projects that are helping native trout populations thrive. We want anglers to learn about these unique species and where they can go to catch them. In addition, catching the selected species helps conserve them by promoting angling and fishing license sales for native trout species, which also supports conservation efforts. It’s a wonderful way to help conserve these beautiful species, in beautiful places, at your own pace.”
The Western Native Trout Challenge is complementing a similar effort in some states. Anglers can participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge at the same time they participate in state specific programs, including the Arizona Trout Challenge, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Nevada Native Fish-Slam, Utah Cutthroat Slam and the Wyoming Cutt-slam.
Learn more, and register at WesternNativeTroutChallenge.org
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Therese Thompson, 303-236-4402
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a nationally recognized partnership under the National Fish Habitat Partnership program that works cooperatively across 12 Western states to conserve 21 native trout and char species across their historic range. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $29 million in federal, public and private funds to serve 139 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 87 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,130 miles of native trout habitat and put in place 30 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.
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